Flooding ‘can’t be ignored any longer’

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Small steps have been made toward rectifying the problem of road closures due to flooding in the Totara area since resident, Jock Webster, organised a petition from those affected and presented it to the Waitaki District Council.

Mr Webster said the worst affected roads have been Springfield, Fortification and Gees Roads which have been flooded to varying degrees since May 2013.

In the interim, $5000 has been granted from council and Mr Webster is pumping water from the Springfield Road pond via the Mitchell and Webster irrigation line into the Waiareka Creek. He said in a statement presented to the WDC Assets Committee meeting last week that siphoning had proved difficult because of air locks.

“With the materials used and the amount of time I have spent on this task, the amount allocated is rapidly being used up,” he said.

Drains put in by earlier residents which used to carry the water out to sea were blocked, he said, and the water levels were at a new high.

“Totara has the capability of being a very productive area but with 20 percent of some properties affected by flooding, this has a huge effect on the economic benefit for both individuals and the North Otago community.”

“The Mitchell and Webster Group themselves pay nearly $70,000 in rates and the total from the signatories of the petition will be very significant.”

Assets Committee chairman, Bill Kingan, said he visited the sites yesterday and was in the process of organising a meeting with the Otago Regional Council.

“People are being badly disrupted and the problem can’t be ignored any longer,” he said.

The pumping option was a short term solution, he said, while drainage options were investigated with the regional council. Mr Kingan advised the Assets Committee last week that it was likely existing drains would now be damaged and that ‘if anything was done it would have to be new.’

Mr Webster believes a staged drainage system needs to be planned and installed which would benefit residents, council and the North Otago economy.

By LINDA MCCARTHY

PHOTO: LINDA MCCARTHY

ACTION PLAN: Flood water on Springfield Road, Totara, is now being pumped into the Waiareka Creek in an effort to re-open the road to vehicles.